November 29, 2007


Carol over at Maydreamsgardens did a post a few days ago and pondered about what to do with a blank canvas of a large suburban garden that could be seen " all at once. " No mystery or magic there was what she concluded.

Having such a large piece of land of my own would be my dream come true, but I have to face reality : I have a small urban garden and I'm not planning to go anywhere anytime soon. Unless I win the lottery and I'm not holding my breath. Besides, a small plot is more challenging to me.

SO, here is the blank canvas that I inherited when I bought my house :

NO, it didn't happen overnight, but here is how I've painted my canvas :


The first priority on my list was how to enjoy my garden-a place to sit, eat , and relax. Must be close to the house for ease of bringing food in and out. Viola ! Showed plan to Mr. Engineer-in-residence and chief architect, hubby Simon who immediately started and finished the project of adding a ground-level cedar deck and a pergola ( note that there are NO major shade trees in my very hot Western exposure ) which provides much needed shade in the summer.

Next on my list was the soothing sound of water, for what is a garden without it ? I've always wanted a fish pond but don't like those contrived ones with rocks everywhere. Did you ever see a pond in nature look like that ? So, I dug a 4 x 4 ' square ( 3 feet deep ) and had Simon add a wood surround. It looks very simple and Asian inspired. We have 9 pets that have been happily living in the pond over many harsh Chicago winters. They must all be males or females because they've never produced babies, unless they did and maybe ate them before I noticed ?!

The next thing to follow was the pathway. A path should not only be natural and attractive but functional. In other words, it should take you somewhere. In my case it was to the most travelled places -the pond and the garage. I dug out the path and laid flagstone on top of pea gravel . A very natural looking path that I'm very pleased with .

The folks over at Gardeninggonewild are doing a great workshop on paths. Excuse the pun but the path I created in my own garden set me on the path to a career in garden design and was featured in the GLORIOUS GARDENS contest of the Chicago Tribune.

Stay tuned for the continued developments in the Sweet Home and Garden Chicago garden canvas.


  1. carolyn - WOW!!! If I were to draw my backyard it'd be almost IDENTICAL to yours! the only difference is where you have a carport, we turned ours into a basketball court.

    where your cedar patio is, is where I plan to put my new patio next year. I'm still trying to decide between 1. groundlevel deck made from composite wood 2. brick pavers or 3. stamped concrete. I also love your flagstone path and may just flat out copy it for my own yard! ;)

  2. You've noticed that there's no copyright on my design so feel free ! Isn't that something that our backyards are so much alike ? My front could be a carbon copy of yours as well ! Holy smokes.

    BTW, I hate the look of composite decking - it's like artificial turf ! Cedar will last a lifetime so it's worth the extra expense. Stamped concrete is nice if it's in the earth tone colors but it can be costly if you have a pro do it. Brick pavers are definitely a DIY job.

    I'm glad you like my design. Wait for the next installment on plant material.

  3. Great post showing what you did with your backyard to make it a garden. I'm fortunate to have a bigger space to work with, which is probably why it has taken me so long to figure out what I want to do with it. I posted more about garden design tonight...

  4. Thanks, Carol and a great post it was about garden design, too.

  5. carolyn - i don't particularly like the look of the composite deck either but it appeals to my inner treehugger ;)

    You think brick pavers is a DIY project?? I dunno, carolyn. I can't imagine tackleing a project of that magnitude. I'm leaning toward have a professional do whichever patio I decide on. I think it's worth the investement, don't you?

  6. You've used all the space well, Carolyn - and I like that square pond!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  7. Thanks, Annie. We enjoy sitting in the shade of the pergola and have most of our meals there all summer long right up until it gets too cold to cook out.

  8. Brick pavers do take a lot of patience and know-how, Gina. I do think that having a pro do the hardscape is a great investment and makes a really big difference in the garden.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...